Nearly 400 children ranging in age from pre-school to sixth grade attend summer camp at the New Jersey Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May. Who’s in charge of keeping an eye on them during their adventures at the center’s daily Summer Nature Camps? 4-H teens enrolled in the eight-week Rutgers 4-H Summer Teen Leadership Program, just one 4-H program that helps youth to “Discover the Leader in Them.”
4-H teens have been assisting teacher-naturalists and learning leadership skills at the Nature Center for over 20 years in this unique educational partnership between 4-H and the New Jersey Audubon Society. This year, 18 teens ranging from eighth through 12th grades are enrolled in the program, open to both local teens and summer residents. 2018 participants are Isabella Aftanis, Jordyn Boone, Isadora Bosacco, Ryan Brady, Hope Campbell, Grace Edling, Seth Edling, Dave Etgen, Mackenzie Gehringer, Cole Grimm, Madison Hannan, Colin Keyes, Brian Mikolajczyk, Jakob Pender, Isabella Pruszinski, Austin Tilley, Grace Vandergrift and Landon Zimmerman.
During their internships, the teen leaders will mentor their young charges, learning many leadership skills along the way such as good communication, active listening and positive feedback. Every Friday, the teens take part in an intense leadership training session with 4-H Program Coordinator Linda Horner, Teen Leader Program Coordinator Deborah Avicolli and Teen Leader Program Assistants Julia and Steven Gindville. These weekly sessions include activities designed to build communication and problem solving skills and help teens learn to set and reach goals.
And, as befitting any 4-H group, the teen leaders complete a community service project each year. This summer, you can visit them at the 4-H Fair, where they will be staffing an educational marine science touch tank in the Lockwood 4-H Youth Center.
Be sure to stop by the touch tank to see some interesting sea creatures and to meet our 2018 teen leaders. For more information about the teen leader program, call the 4-H office at (609) 465-5115 ext. 3605.